Sunday, August 21, 2011

INDIA’S FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION Post.6 Dated 22,Aug, 2011 : Should PM,Judiciary be under Lok Pal? = ANNA ON FAST, GOVERNMENT NOT FAST :

Post.6 Dated 22,Aug, 2011



In the last Post (no.5) in this series – I had pointed out the euphoria, the rhetoric and the missed opportunities in the current fight against Corruption.

Every one in this country is very sadly feeling one thing at this point of time. The Government is not as much serious in FIGHTING CORRUPTION, as it is in FIGHTING THE “FIGHTERS AGAINST CORRUPTION”.

It is not serious, not transparent and not clear in its moves against either Swami Ram Devji earlier or against Team Anna now. Its spokesmen talk very nasty words against members of team Anna when they perceive smallest opportunity for it and then retract those words by some one else, if the wind blows against the Government.

Had the Government Draft of the Lok Pal Bill been even half as good as Team Anna’s Bill – its intentions would have been seen in a much better light. Even today – I hold Sri Manmohan Singhji as an impeccable, non-corruptible Prime Minister. Left to himself – he had clearly indicated that he would be willing to submit to Lok Pal’s Jurisdiction. The probable reason for this is – he is till today a largely non-political, simple person, occupying the chair of PM – courtesy others – and not on his own Political strength. But, the Nation needs to remember his economic acumen and contribution – which has put Indian Economy in a good shape.

But, the appeal of the Nation to him is – please do exercise your moral authority on members of your team and ask them to rise up to this historic occasion and come up with a  Good, strong Lok Pal Bill, free of the flaws of the Govt Lok Pal Bill, and free of some of the extreme Provisions of the Jan Lok Pal Bill. Get the Bill introduced in Parliament, debated quickly and passed with overwhelming majority – if not with complete consensus.

There are mainly 2 contentious Issues between the 2 Drafts. (1) The inclusion of the PM under Lok Pal Jurisdiction and (2) bringing the Higher Judiciary under Lok Pal. On both issues, both the drafts take extreme Positions and both are risky.

Govt Draft says – investigate PM only after his tenure is over. This is meaningless. This means, allow him to commit the biggest corrupt practice in the history of any Nation but yet, keep quiet till he demits office after 5 Years. Obviously – the Nation will be terribly at loss in such a situation. The Nation needs relief from such a Corrupt PM, quickly.

On the other hand – Jan Lok Pal Bill says – Investigate the PM – for every single complaint by any Tom, Dick or Harry. And, in a country like India, there will be thousands of complaints pouring into Lok Pal’s office daily – alleging the PM’s role in every single thing happening in their Towns. India cannot function if PM is subjected to Lok Pal’s Jurisdiction in such a cavalier manner.

But - If there is a really significant corrupt act by the PM, let 50 / 75/ 100 MPs(number to be decided in the Lok Pal bill by Parliament) may sign a complaint and submit to Lok Pal, with reasonable – even circumstantial – evidence and let this form the basis for Lok Pal’s investigation on this complaint. Not otherwise. Thus, there is a third, more viable, more sensible alternative to both drafts. I suggest all sides to this issue to look at such third alternatives.

The second contentious issue is – Judiciary. My strong feeling is that - let there be a separate Judicial Lok Pal – formed out of Judiciary itself, to look into complaints on all Judiciary, from highest to lowest. Let this Judicial Lok Pal investigate the Judiciary. It is absolutely incorrect and dangerous to place judiciary under the Lok Pal, who is more akin to an Executive. 

We may say – Lok Pal will only investigate – but prosecution will again be by Judiciary. I want to know, how many times, say a chief Justice or Justice of Supreme Court, has to sit before the Lok Pal’s office for investigation – before the investigation is completed and sent to the relevant court for prosecution, or, totally dropped by the Lok Pal? It does not sound sensible at all. 

Also – Judicial Independence must not be compromised for any reason – and it is one of the most basic tenets of Indian constitution and the Biggest safeguard for India. 2G , CWG and other scams would not have been dealt with so effectively – but for an independent, vigilant higher Judiciary. At this point of time – I do not expect any Lok Pal, to match the performance of our Higher Judiciary in such fearless, yet, unbiased tackling of Issues. What is needed is – the Judicial Lok Pal also must also become a reality urgently – say, within 4 months – and should not wait for another 42 years.

On other matters, like bringing CVC and anti-corruption wings of CBI under Lok Pal, appointments, removal etc of Lok Pal, I am in agreement with Team Anna. After Lok Pal is a reality, corruption issues must be handed over by Government to Lok Pal. Like Prosecution is handed over to Judiciary. Government and Lok Pal cannot both be handling Corruption issues – with huge duplication of efforts and possibly denying the Lok Pal his rightful jurisdiction on this very excuse (that we are investigating, you please wait!).

Whether Gr.A only or, all Government servants must come under Lok Pal – here again, a third alternative can be seen as more viable and sensible. Technically – all must come under Lok Pal. But, physically Lok Pal must handle only Gr. and Gr.B. Others must be handled by existing Departmental /Ministerial vigilance wings, whose personnel must be selected by Lok Pal, and who should be placed under Lok Pal. Lok Pal will not see all cases of Gr.C and Gr.D, but will have full authority to see any individual cases of sufficient importance.

Another most important issue on which I totally agree with Team Anna is – Lok Ayukth for all states must also become a reality under the same Act as Lok Pal. There is huge corruption in State Governments in most departments, and , we all know that. We can’t be hiding under the pretext of Federal structure etc for creating Lok Ayukth. 

Let not a state CM nominate his own Lok  Ayukth under an Act made to his taste. Also, if a state does not want to make rules for Lok Ayukth, like Central Government did not do it for 42 years – we are at square one on corruption again. In my view, it is more urgent in many states than even in the central Government.

A few last things.

Anna is on FAST. For the 7th day. But, Government is NOT FAST at all. Even now. Either Negative Action, or, Action Paralysis. But, we do not see constructive, positive, serious, transparent moves at all. 

There is also – absolutely NO CONSULTATION what so ever, with Opposition Parties, who ultimately need to Vote on the Bill. Team Anna is not going to Vote. Opposition will. I do not see any one seriously consulting them at all. Team Anna has adequately put forth their views. 

Let the Bills now move into Lok Sabha / Rajya Sabha for a clause by clause discussion and decision. If that is done – Anna can be persuaded to end his fast – to every one’s satisfaction.

PS : Open minds only can see Solutions. Closed Minds see only Problems

*  *   *   JAI HIND   *  *  *

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